New Interview!

Last week I was interviewed by Pagan for my new book, the Path of the Hedgewitch. The podcast is now available, so please go on and have a listen, and check out all the other great stuff on there too!

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Well, happy new year! 2022 was a very busy year, and things don’t look like they’re slowing down anytime soon. Sadly, we ended the year with the loss of a very dear family member on the Winter Solstice, which was utterly heartbreaking. It really brought into focus the time of year, and how the seeming “death” all around us in the heart of winter here in the UK is not just an abstract concept, but something very real, very visceral and which changes lives forever.

Yet the cycle continues, and even in these dark days I can notice the longer daylight hours, the difference in the birds’ song in the mornings, the buds slumbering on the tree branches and the beginnings of snowdrops. There is always hope, if we just know where to look.

This year will be a year of writing for me. I already have this blog, and I write for my community at Patreon, but I am also starting my new book: a follow-up to The Path of the Hedge Witch, which came out in October 2022. I’m excited about writing again, after over a year of editing, fine tuning, marketing and all the other bits and pieces that come with releasing a book. It’s nice to get stuck into a new project!

I’ve still also got my YouTube channel, however I think I will only be posting about one video a month there, as my time will be devoted first and foremost to my writing this year. It’s been a wonderful experience working with the medium of video, and I thoroughly enjoy it.

My own personal practice continues, both as a Druid and a Hedge Witch. With regards to teaching, we had a great time at the Introduction to Wicca and Witchcraft sessions in Woodbridge, Suffolk last autumn. It was nice to teach in-person again, locally too! The Introduction to Druidry online course is going well, and I also offered an Introduction to the Goddess, Freya on my Patreon community last autumn, which was well received. I may make that course more widely available this year, so keep an eye out for it here and on my website.

This year for me, personally, I am focusing on deepening my relationship even further with the gods, and also my connection to the land where I live. I’ve always felt like my heart has been in two places at once, having grown up in Canada but moved to the UK in the late 90’s. I need to carve out more time from my busy schedule to commune with the land and its inhabitants. I also need to re-establish a daily meditation practice, as that slipped away bit by bit last year. A daily practice of communion with the gods through prayer and meditation is always a good thing. I’ve also made a little space for my house wight next to the hearth, and hope that they like it – I’ll keep you posted!

Our garden still has its regular visitors, day and night. The muntjac deer always come round late afternoon for tea (bird seed and peanuts), the magpies tagging along as well as the ubiquitous pigeons. We also have collared doves, the occasional small group of fallow deer, jackdaws, crows, hedgehogs, pheasants, owls, badgers and various neighbouring cats each day. Yesterday I even spied a falcon, most likely a young kestrel, sitting deep in the branches of a massive ash tree on a neighbouring property behind my hedge. Wonderful!

I spent the winter holiday period with my family in Canada, and it was so good to see and be in the snow again. It’s been five years since I’ve experienced snow like that, and the colours, the sounds, the smells were all just such a joy. I adore snow, but we don’t get much, if any at all, here on the Suffolk coast, and so I was delighted when the plane landed in a blizzard. We had several feet of snow over the holidays, and when I left we were flying through yet another snowstorm. Great for outdoor lovers of winter activities in Quebec!

I hope that this year brings you joy and abundance, peace and lots of good will. May your words be kind, your thoughts be clear and your voice be strong. Blessings to you!

The Runes: Rād

In this blog series , we will go through the runes as they are recorded in the Anglo-Saxon or Old English Rune Poem.

The fifth rune, Rād or Raidho  as it is commonly known, means “riding” and is mainly concerned with travel and roads, pathways and suchlike, but has lots of other lovely aspects to it such as partnership, co-operation, and sometimes even good luck. In the Old English Rune poem, Rād is defined thus:

“Riding is for every man in the hall

Easy, and strenuous for him who sits upon

A powerful horse along the long paths.”

As someone who has worked with horses for many years, I can see the truth is this kenning quite clearly from a literal viewpoint. When we have a powerful horse beneath us, we need to learn how to work in co-operation with its own power, instead of trying to overpower it ourselves. Horses work best with us if we use a “power-with” model, instead of a “power-over” model, especially when working with dominant or lead mares.  If you are fighting against the horse’s own power (and it’s way bigger and stronger than you) and are on a long road, then you will be exhausted by the end of it. Instead, learn to work with the horse’s energy, a blending with your own and form a true relationship, one of reciprocity, of give and take. You’ll get where you need to go in life a lot easier that way.

This rune also makes you consider your “seat”, or how you sit in the saddle. You have to work with the horse, and your seat is just as important as the reins. How you sit will greatly influence the horse, as it can feel the slightest movements in your weight, legs, hips, even the turning of your head. Many people think that riding is all about the reins, but first and foremost, it’s about your seat. If you weight is too far forward or too far backward, for instance, it will impair what you and the horse are trying to achieve. So Rād/Raidho is a good reminder to be mindful of how you are in the world, in order to move through it better.

Pollington suggests that this rune may have been used as a good luck charm for travel.[1] If you are planning a journey, or wish to go on one, using this rune could be very beneficial. The shape of the rune even suggests travel, as the rough outline looks like the head and neck of a horse. As stated above, it could also mean power, and even wealth, for horses have always been expensive to keep. Don’t forget that not all travels occur in this world – this rune could symbolise travelling between the worlds too.

Even the deities used horses – Odin has his eight-legged Sleipnir, and the wains of the Sun and Moon are drawn by horses. There is a beautiful Bronze Age solar chariot in Trundholm, Denmark, with a very lifelike representation of a horse (strangely, on wheels) which may symbolise the turning of the year.

Rād is to work with a powerful ally. Use it in your travels, both in this world and the Otherworld. Be mindful of your seat, and work in co-operation. Rād is not only the means of travel, but the road itself.

Sources:

Albertsson, A. Wyrdworking: the Path of a Saxon Sorcerer, Llewellyn (2011)

Gundarsson, K. Teutonic Magic: A Guide to Germanic Divination, Lore and Magic, Thoth Publications (2007)

Pollington, S. Rudiments of Runelore, Anglo-Saxon Books (2011)

Rance, S. The English Runes: Secrets of Magic, Spells and Divination, Dragon House (2017)

Waggoner, B. A Pocket Guide to Runes, The Troth (2019)


[1] Pollington, S. Rudiments of Runelore, Anglo-Saxon Books (2011)

Surrendering

Since the release of his book, Surrender, I’ve been thinking about this concept that Bono talks about in so many different ways. In one tale, presented live on the “The Late Show” (see video below) it really struck a chord within me (pun totally intended).

He talked about how he had (and still has) to approach his wife of 40 years within such terms. He spoke of approaching her like this: “Only if you arrive at her fort defenceless, do you have half a chance in challenging her own, almost unbroachable defences”.

I thought that this was utterly beautiful. It could be applied to so much in life, not just your loved one. For me, it’s about being authentic, about being truly and utterly you, to whomever it is you are trying to connect with. It could be your life partner, your parents, your children, your gods, your ancestors, your community.

When approaching the gods, there is no point in putting up a mask, surrounding yourself with defences. They are gods. They see through all that crap. If you choose to open up your soul to a god, then there is no need for games, for duplicity or falsehoods of any kind. There is only you, and the deity.

It’s much the same with your life partner, family, ancestors, even those of your community. Those who think that they are fooling you with guises and masks are only fooling themselves. People are more perceptive than many think. We know when something or someone is “off”, it’s just that often we choose to ignore that instinct.

Authenticity is about surrender. It’s about being utterly human, being utterly you. It’s acknowledging the good and the bad and everything in between. It’s about working towards being the best person you can be, without masks, without disguises.

This doesn’t mean you have to let go of all boundaries. But if you truly want to connect on a soul-deep level, it is about being totally, utterly you. Letting down your defences also allows those to come to your aid. Keep them up, and they keep everything and everyone out.

The concept of surrender, and of defences, is one that I am going to chew over for quite some time this winter. In the stillness and silence of a winter’s day, in the overarching darkness of a long winter’s night, I am taking this to heart and really experiencing what it is to live in this manner. It will will, I think, open up new ways of living and being that before were only imagined.

This winter, I am surrendering.

Beauty Companies’ Dirty Little Secret

Since 2017, when plastic microbeads came under the spotlight, there was much commotion to get this “ingredient” banned from cosmetic and skincare products. Great, you might think, because they succeeded. But did you know that there are tons of other microplastics out there that are still perfectly legal, and have been since the 1960’s?

Some of the main culprits are:

Dimethicone

Polyethelene

Acrylates Copolymer

Carbomer

These legal microplastics show up in shampoos, facial cleansers, moisturisers and lots of other products. Often they are used as thickening agents. Seems like good old corn starch isn’t really good enough anymore. There are other microplastics out there – look out for anything that has acrylic or acrylate in the word, or a polymer of any kind.

Some beauty brands, like Avon, have been against animal testing for over 30 years. Great, you might say. But I recently found out that around 80% of the products I looked at have microplastics. Many of these products used to have their ingredients listed on the website, so you knew what you were buying before you actually made the purchase. However, I have noticed that since the increased use of microplastics in their products, they have stopped listing ingredients for many of their skincare and beauty products on the website, and all of those with unlisted ingredients contained microplastics. It seems Avon is cottoning on to the fact that we are becoming more aware of what is and isn’t acceptable.

Even companies like The Body Shop are still using microplastics. There is Acrylate Crosspolymer is their Microdermabrasion Vit C facial scrub, for instance. It was also in their Satsuma Body Scrub, which is now no longer available.

There are some good websites that go into detail about the legal microplastics still available for companies to use in their products. There is also a petition to get the EU to ban ALL microplastics. As the companies refuse to take responsibility for their actions, it’s up to the consumer to be informed on every purchase. Which is, I know, a right pain the arse. But if we care enough about what kind of world we are leaving to our descendants, and to all life, then we must take the extra few seconds to read that ingredients list, read up on the latest information, and stay aware.

Some articles to help you get started on microplastics are:

Get to Know Your Microplastics

Get to Know Your Microplastics Part II

For a wonderful company in the UK that is totally plastic-free, has 100% recylable packaging, offers refills through the post and also student and NHS Key Workers discounts, see UpCircle for their great skincare products. This is a personal recommendation, not a paid promotion 🙂